Best practice in idea management: A look at I.K. Hofmann GmbH

Idea management is a central component of modern organisations that strive for innovation and continuous improvement. But how do you create an effective system that motivates employees and brings about real change? I.K. Hofmann GmbH provides an impressive example of how to successfully overcome the challenges of idea management and create a culture of innovation. This article highlights the best practices that I.K. Hofmann GmbH has developed to optimise its idea management.


Introduction: The “Ideenhof” as an innovation centre

I.K. Hofmann GmbH realised that its existing company suggestion scheme and continuous improvement processes were not efficient enough in its decentralised, process-oriented organisation. The solution was the “Ideenhof”, a centralised platform that was launched at great expense during the biggest internal event of the year, the company seminar. A hologram show and QR codes for registration attracted attention and initial participation.


Transparent communication motivates

A key element in the success of the”Ideenhof” is transparent communication. A simple submission form lowers the threshold for employees to submit their ideas. The option to submit ideas anonymously encourages honest feedback. Ideas are also clearly categorised and evaluated so that employees always know what happens to their suggestions and who is responsible for them.


Efficient idea process: submission, categorisation and evaluation

The “Ideenhof” makes it easy to submit and classify ideas. There are seven tags for classification, which provide a clear structure. The ideas are evaluated by two experts according to defined criteria for potential and feasibility. This ensures a fair and transparent evaluation and prevents ideas from getting lost in the shuffle.


Incentive schemes to encourage submissions

Motivation and incentives are key to encouraging active participation. I.K. Hofmann GmbH uses a points system where submitters can collect ‘nuggets’. These nuggets are converted into tickets to win valuable prizes in an annual raffle. These prizes range from gadgets such as a Nintendo Switch or an iPad to trips. Such incentives create a fun competition and significantly increase participation.


Transparency and regular communication

Traceable processes and regular updates on the status of submitted ideas are essential for employee satisfaction. This transparency means that submitters always know where their ideas stand in the process and feel that they are taken seriously and valued.


Rotate evaluation teams to avoid power imbalances

Although the teams that evaluate ideas are specialised in certain topics, I.K. Hofmann GmbH is considering rotating these teams. They are currently testing this model for their innovation challenges. This will help to avoid power imbalances and ensure that the evaluation remains fair and impartial.


Added value through exclusive content and communication

The “Ideenhof” offers exclusive information and opportunities for interaction that are not available on the intranet. This includes updates on ongoing projects, collaboration with start-ups and live demos of new technologies. This exclusive content makes the platform attractive and increases usage and interaction.


Knowledge management and avoiding duplication

Another important aspect of the “Ideenhof” is knowledge management. Ideas are often submitted for which solutions already exist. An effective system for identifying and communicating these solutions avoids duplication of effort. This saves time and resources and helps to make better use of existing knowledge.


Direct communication with management

Anonymised challenges such as “Mrs Hofmann said” created a direct communication channel to management. Employees were able to ask questions anonymously, which were then answered by management. This direct interaction promotes trust and transparency and shows employees that their concerns are taken seriously.


Regular newsletters to encourage interaction

Regular newsletters, published monthly or quarterly, help to increase performance and interaction on the platform. These newsletters provide information about new ideas, progress and successes, keeping employees up to date.


Challenges before launching the “Ideenhof”

I.K. Hofmann GmbH faced several challenges before implementing the Idea Hub. The existing idea management system was not transparent, with no clear deadlines or responsibilities. Ideas were evaluated in meetings, but without clear roles or responsibilities, resulting in a chaotic process. Many ideas ended up with the same people who already had other important tasks, giving the impression that things weren’t moving forward. The submission of ideas was hampered by unclear categories and there was a lack of strategic innovation communication.


The role of the “Ideenhof” in addressing these challenges

The “Ideenhof” has created a single point of contact for innovation that addresses these challenges. Clear structures and processes, transparent communication and an effective incentive system have motivated employees to actively participate and submit ideas. This has not only increased the number of ideas submitted, but also improved their quality and feasibility.



The implementation of the “Ideenhof” at I.K. Hofmann GmbH shows how well-thought-out idea management can contribute to promoting innovation and continuous improvement. Transparent processes, clear communication, attractive incentives and a central platform have created a culture in which employees are encouraged to actively participate in the improvement and innovation of the company. These best practices provide valuable insights and inspiration for companies looking to improve their own idea management.


I.K. Hofmann GmbH - Using collective intelligence for innovation